Habits of Anxiety

Habits of Anxiety September 20, 2017


Ah, the gentle sound of children squabbling with each other in the morning. Wednesday is piano lesson day–four children laboring away one by one, massacring Pachelbel, Mozart, and Star Wars. Incidentally, its hard for me to find words of express how much I loath Canon in D. To quote that funny ranting guy on YouTube, “I’ll see you in hell Pachelbel.”

Feel really terrible about dropping off My Own blog, and not even podcasting or doing links or anything. But I was busy anxiously examining on my own impending doom, unable to wrench my eyes away from the gaping maw of my assured distraction, I mean destruction. Weeks and weeks ago I agreed to give a chapel talk at Houghton, that charming institution nestled with its friendly cats in the autumnal hills of western New York. I had actually never been there before, although I sort of felt like I had, knowing really lovely people having matriculated from thence.

Like a blind idiot, I blithely agreed to the talk, forgetting that I never go anywhere or do anything, and that blogging is nothing like speaking out-loud to a room full of a million gorgeous and intelligent students. What was I thinking? Reading me on the internet is a hundred percent more interesting than making my personal acquaintance. Believe me. Here I scintillate the passerby with my unicorn verbosity. In person the only thing interesting about me is how much I hate snow.

Anyway, I told the students not to be completely self absorbed, an admonishment I am obviously not able to carry out myself. The trouble is, I’ve made a habit of anxiety, which has as its cornerstone self preserving self regard. It’s the vice that I’ve indulged more than chocolate.

Not that I really want to blame myself for my own dysfunction. I’m pretty sure that anxiety is the defining quality of parish life. For one thing, you can’t make anyone do anything. You are always in the posture of trying to pray people towards stuff like godly living and church attendance, with hefty measures of pleading, preaching, and text messaging thrown into the breach. So you have to trust God, which, you might be interested to know, is kind of a drag. The only way you can really do anything that feels useful is to constantly worry and freak out. I mean, of course you pray, but that feels utterly useless, so you conjoin it with anxious worry in a way that makes it feel more productive.

So that’s what I did for the last two or three months–equal measures of avoidance and panic. I would think, what would God think is the best thing for me? And the answer is obviously humiliation, because that’s the first step to humility. So then I would consider all the different available circumstances of humiliation, and would then panic, and then would decide not to think about it any more, but that would engender moar panic. Please, tell me I’m not alone in this.

Of course, I should make a habit of trust or something. But that doesn’t seem quite as interesting. And really, it isn’t, because now that it’s all over I’ve descended into a sublime haze. I slept all of yesterday, and today I’m going to do that again, with the addition of lying back in a chair smiling at passing children. And believe me, it’s no where near as productive and traumatic.

And now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go have a lie down.

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